(TRENTON) – The Assembly today approved legislation drafted by Senator Donald Norcross and Assemblyman Angel Fuentes and Gilbert “Whip” Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester) that would allow local governments to implement a public contract set-aside program for businesses that are owned by or that employ veterans. “Supporting our veterans is what we do,” said Senator Norcross. “They have given too much of their lives to be forgotten when they come home. This legislation provides local governments with a mechanism to ensure that their veterans are given every consideration they deserve.” Current law allows local governments to designate up to 3% of local contracts to small businesses, as well as those owned by women and minorities. A-1133 opens that provision to businesses owned by or that employ veterans. “This is a logical addition to a program that is already at work for business owners of our state,” Assemblyman Fuentes said. “Local governments are able to make the choice that best serves the needs of their constituents and their budgets.” To qualify, a business must be at least 51% controlled or owned by a veteran, or must agree to employ veterans to complete the contract. “The rate of unemployment for our veterans is unacceptable and needs to be addressed,” Assemblyman Wilson added. “The men and women who fought for this country should not be fighting for jobs when they return.” The bill was passed by the Assembly by a vote of 76-0.